What issues are HR departments facing in schools in the UK this year?
In this article, we’ll break down the impact of a recent consultation on keeping children safe in education. Plus, we’ll discuss your options for recruiting foreign workers in a post-Brexit Britain and other issues.
Keeping children safe
A recent government consultation set forth proposals on how to keep students safe while in education. While not all of the suggested changes will have an impact on employment, there is one area it will affect—recruitment.
The proposal in question allows schools & colleges to conduct online searches on shortlisted candidates to:
“help identify any incidents or issues that have happened, and are publicly available online, which [they] might want to explore with the applicant at interview.”
In short, you can search a candidates online presence prior to hiring them.
Is this proposal likely to become law?
The government will be going ahead with this proposal. They’ve published guidance for schools and colleges to follow from Thursday 1st September 2022.
Do I have to do an online search of candidates?
There is no legal obligation to do this. However, you should at least consider carrying out an online check as part of due diligence. If you choose not to, make a note of your reasons. Consistency is key. You should not undertake checks for one individual and then make no checks with another. Following this path may make your recruitment process discriminatory, so tread carefully.
Should I search the candidate’s social media?
You can, but you don’t have to. The guidance refers to ‘internet searches’, not ‘social media searches’. This implies that you aren’t expected to trawl through every social channel and prospective employee has. However, further guidance may be provided on this before the 1st September deadline.
What information should I look for?
You aren’t looking for details on the candidate’s social life or opinions. Their political views are irrelevant unless they’re involved in extremist groups or sharing extremist ideas.
The main information you’re looking for is anything that makes them unfit to work with children or students.
Should we reject a candidate if we find something?
No. Bring it up in the interview with them. You should always provide the interviewee with an opportunity to explain.
Can we use the searches to shortlist recruits?
No. Only carry out an online search once a candidate, or group of recruits, have been shortlisted.
Do I need to update my policies & procedures?
This will depend on how your current documentation is worded. It’s possible you may need to update your candidate privacy notice to include information on the online searches you’ll conduct. Any use of data gathered online needs to be transparent to candidates.
What are the potential issues that could arise?
There is the possibility for discrimination to occur. If you are inconsistent with when you conduct you checks, you could face a discrimination claim. To avoid the potential for bias, we recommend the online searches are done by someone independent of the recruitment process. Failing that, don’t conduct the search alone. Having multiple people perform a search further reduces the chance of bias.
You also need to make sure you treat the data you collect in line with GDPR and retain the information for no longer than you need it. It’s generally advisable to retain recruitment documents for at least six months. However, you may need to keep this data for longer. Speak to one of our consultants for advice on data retention and employment law issues that could arise on 01455 858 132.
Recruiting EU Nationals post Brexit
The first half of 2022 saw record numbers of resignations, with the phenomenon being dubbed “The Great Resignation”. This, coupled with the recruitment issues caused by Britain leaving the EU, has left many schools with staffing problems.
What is the answer?
If you’re looking for support on recruiting foreign nationals, we’ve got guidance on the process here.
If you wanted to receive guidance on employing Ukrainian nationals specifically, you can download our guide here.
Finally, if you were thinking of filling some roles with apprentices, this is a viable option. However, your existing employees will need to assign some of their time to supervision as teaching. This may stretch your resources further, so consider this option carefully. If you want further guidance on apprenticeships, you can download our free guide here.
Paying the National Minimum Wage - Summer Schools
One of the main reasons employers pay their staff under the minimum wage is because of deductions and payments that put them below their pay band. Examples of these deductions, include:
- Tools & equipment
One of these payments is accommodation. However, the effect of accommodation rates depends on how much you charge for accommodation. This is calculated by the intervals at which someone is being paid. This could be weekly, monthly, or at irregular intervals. Free accommodation still affects the minimum wage.
For example, if an employee’s take home pay is below the national minimum wage, but they get free accommodation, this can offset the difference bringing them above the NMW.
The inverse of this is also true. In this example, an employee is paid above the national minimum wage, but they live in accommodation for work. You charge the employee for staying in the accommodation and this pushes them below the NMW.
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